TiVo changes pricing and rebate

TiVo shuffled their pricing today. Here’s the new TiVo Service Payment Plans, TiVo Multi-Service Discount Agreement, and current rebate. My reading of these is that current users are grandfathered at their current $12.95 or $6.95 MSD rate, since the new rates apply when the user agrees to activate. Maybe TiVo can clarify that.

TiVo has reduced the pricing on the bundle packages from TiVo.com. Bundles include an 80-hour S2. Pre-paid plans used to be $224, $369, and $469 for 1-, 2-, and 3-year plans, and they are now $199, $299, and $349. This makes the three year plan, already the best value, even better. The plans break down to the equivalent of $16.58, $12.46, and $9.69 per month. Even better, the 3-year plan is currently available for $299 – the equivalent of $8.31 per month.

The monthly rates have changed too. They used to be $19.95, $18.95, or $16.95 per month, for 1-, 2-, or 3-year plans. Now they’re $19.95, $14.95, and $12.95. That’s a savings of $96 over two years, and $144 over three.

At the same time, the upgrade cost of the 80-hour S2DT went from $30 to $69.99, and the 180-hour S2DT from $130 to $169.99. So pre-paid S2DT plans are $15 more, $30 less, and $80 less ($130 less with the special), respectively. And monthly plans have a net $40 increase, $56 decrease, and $104 decrease.

So TiVo has done a lot of price-cutting on their bundles.

TiVo has increased their rebate for retail purchases. The old rebate was $150. The new rebate is $180 for the S2DT, or any of the non-TiVo brand boxes (Humax, Toshiba, or Pioneer), and $220 for the TiVo S2 (540 version – aka ‘nightlight’ TiVo with the white front.) So they’ve effectively dropped the acquisition costs of the hardware.

The old service-only pre-paid plans were $155.40, $299, and $399 for 1-, 2-, or 3-year plans. These are now $199, $299, and $349. So the one year plan went up $43.60, the two year plan is the same, and the three year plan came down $50. And the rebate went up $30 or $70, depending. So the one year plan went up slightly ($13.60) with the lower rebate, while the other 5 combinations came down. Again, this makes the three year commitment an even better value – now the HW *and* the plan cost less (after rebate). Again, even better, the 3-year plan is currently on special for $299.

The only monthly service-only plan was $12.95/month, across the board. This has changed to a tiered system that matches the bundle pricing – $19.95, $14.95, and $12.95 per month for 1-, 2-, or 3-year commitments. So one year went up $84, 2 years $48, and three years is the same. For the lower rebate that means a net change of $54 more, $18 more, or $30 less. And for the higher rebate it is $14 more, $22 less, or $70 less.

The Multi-Service discount has also changed. It used to be $6.95 per month across the board for up to 5 additional units on an account. Now it is a $6/month discount for up to 5 units. That means you commit for a period of time and the price will be $13.95, $8.95, or $6.95 per month for a 1-, 2-, or 3-year commitment.

It looks like TiVo is encouraging users to commit for a longer period of time by making the longer terms even more attractive. Overall, this is a price reduction. For S2 bundles, five out of six bundle options have dropped in price, the sixth remained the same. For S2DT bundles, eight of twelve have dropped in price, four of twelve have increased (two just barely, $15, the other two by $40). For service only, five of six pre-paid options came down in price, one went up just slightly ($13.60), after rebate. Three of the six monthly service-only plans dropped in net cost, while three went up (two not by much – $14 and $18, one noticeably – $54), after rebate.

So, all told, out of 30 combinations, 21 dropped in net cost. One remained the same. Five increased slightly ($13.60 to $18). And three increased more noticeably ($40 or $54).

All but one increase are on 1-year plans. (The other is an $18 increase over two-years.) I’ve never felt the 1-year deals where that good, I’ve always recommended the three-year deal for anyone who can afford it. (Well, I used to recommend lifetime.)

Believe it or not, after all that, this simplifies the pricing structure because the bundle and service-only prices are now the same. So there are effectively three pre-paid and three monthly options, instead of six of each.

I feel that only three of the increases are noticeable, the others are less than $20 (all but one less than $15). And some of the reductions are quite significant – up to $144! – so I think that this is generally a good change. There are many more net decreases than increases.

(I was made aware of this by TiVoBlog and ZatzNotFunny.)

EDIT: I made another post with pricing tables to make them clearer.

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  • pabell

    540 version – aka ‘nightlight’ TiVo
    That light is quiet useful for us S2er’s :)

    IMHO – What they should do is say “Give us $400 now for you services and if your Tivo Still works after year 3 we will let you have your service free for life after that.”

  • anonymous

    You left out all the people currently on plans (like my Humax burner plan which ends next month), the secondary ebay market, and glossed over TiVo punishing their most loyal customers by futzing with the MSD. For new customers who are content with three years of a standard definition box, maybe it works out. Also the service plans are less fluid than the rebate situation which will most likely change after the holidays, they are not tied lock step.

  • cambler

    Color me totally confused.

    I own 3 S2 boxen. 1 paying $12.95 and the other two paying $6.95, monthly.

    I can’t even begin to figure out if it makes sense to change my plan, especially because I’m waiting for the next gen of hardware to go HD.


  • megazone

    My understanding, and note this is not an official TiVo statement, is that you’d continue paying that rate. I don’t think TiVo is going to increase the payments for existing users. However, if you were to buy a fourth box and activate it, then it would be subject to the new MSD pricing.

  • megazone

    My understanding is that nothing has really changed with the plans. If you’re on a plan now then when it ends you will continue to pay monthly at the plan rate, unless you call and re-up on a different pricing tier. That’s how it has always been. If you were on a one year plan that becomes $19.95/month. unless you re-up for 2 or 3 years. That part did change, because you need the 3 year plan for the $12.95 rate.

    The secondary market has been fairly dead for a while now for anything other than lifetime, because the price on new S2s has been, effectively, free. Why would you buy a used, unrefurbished unit when you can get a new one free? Unless the box has been hacked or upgraded, or it has lifetime, they don’t haven’t had much resale value. The DVD boxes have more resale because they are no longer produced, and there are still people who want one. Supply and demand.

    MSD has always effectively been a $6 discount off the going rate, and that’s what it remains. The most loyal users shouldn’t have a problem with the longer term commitments. TiVo has allowed people to swap hardware as long as the contract remains in effect.

  • anonymous

    Thanks for a good recap of the pricing changes. Reading Zatz, TivoCommunity Forum, etc. you would have thought the world was coming to an end. Bottom line, most of the price changes are positive and should simplify decision making for new potential customers. One suggestion though, Tivo should probably offer new subsribers the opportunity to opt into a longer term plan within 3 months of signing up for the one year only rate.

  • megazone

    Yeah, that would be nice – kind of an upgrade option. Apply what you’ve already paid toward a longer term commitment.

  • anonymous

    … but for those of us that don’t, and for new customers, this is a huge deal. See my response to TiVoPony on the TiVoCommunity forum, which is just as applicable as your comments here:


    Thanks for this, it was helpful, but I’m still not at all happy.


  • megazone

    All new activations have required a minimum one-year commitment for a while now, so that’s not new. And most of the 1-year plans have only gone up a small amount (see the post I made with the tables) so it isn’t a big deal. The last time they raised the price was, what, 2002?

    Meanwhile the 2-year and 3-year plans are almost all better deals. Most people are going to use the box for at least 2-years.

    I don’t consider 2-years ‘long-term’. 2-years is a fairly standard term for things like cell phone contracts, etc. (Heck, I don’t personally consider 3-years ‘long-term’. My 30-year mortgage is long-term. For me long-term probably starts around 5 years. But I can see the psychological jump from two to three for some users.)

    Even if people choose to go with 1-year, except for a couple of cases, they aren’t going to be paying that much more – $13.60 to $15 over the year. That shouldn’t be a big deal.

  • anonymous

    While you may not consider 2-years as ‘long-term’, with the upcoming FCC mandated changes from analog to digital, you can bet that I’m not interested in ‘locking in’ to anything related to Television for at least the next 2-3 years. That’s simply foolish.

    I know that I can probably buy a new box in a couple years and move my contract over, etc, but why deal with that? For the privilege of promising Tivo my business for the next few years, I get to buy hardware that won’t work with all my HD equipment, and if I want to upgrade, I need to spend more money than the value of my contract. Insane….

    At this point, I’m going to keep using my lifetime Tivo S2, go with another DVR technology (like Myth or Sage), and wait out the wave of changes that are going to occur during the next 36 months. At that point, once things settle down and if Tivo is still around AND has something better to offer than a seriously over-priced S3, I might think about jumping back onto the bandwagon. Until then, Tivo’s recent push towards long-term contracts is simply going to keep me on the sidelines, looking at something else.

  • megazone

    The FCC mandated changes only relate to broadcast TV. Unless you use your TiVo with an antenna, they mean nothing at all in relation to this. The S2DT doesn’t work with antenna at all, so it doesn’t matter there. And the S3 already has both NTSC and ATSC tuners, so it meets the mandate. The old S2 works with NTSC antenna and will no longer be sold once the mandate goes into effect, but it has no implication for use with cable or satellite.

  • anonymous

    True, but the S3 only works for cable-subscribers. So, as I upgrade my satellite equipment to HD (which I already have begun doing), I find myself in a situation where I can’t stick my Tivo between my sat receiver and my HDTV because I can’t use the DVI or HDMI connections and as such, a loss of overall image quality, to the point where it’s seriously annoying.

    So, yes, the move to HDTV DOES mean something in relation to this. The current Tivo hardware offering is useless to HD satellite users such as myself, and jumping on board now will probably mean another forced Tivo upgrade if they decide to offer a unit for folks in my situation.

    So, as I stated previously, why would I lock myself into a 3 year contract when I’ll need to buy more Tivo hardware down the road, including the risk that any future mail-in rebates could only be offered to new subscribers only? That’s the direction I see Tivo go towards…

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Tivo. But it sure sounds to me like they’re bowing to shareholder pressure for short-term gains while slowly chipping away at their long-term viability. A few months ago, it wasn’t too hard to convince people that Tivo was worth the money. Now, I have to convince folks that it’s worth the money FOR THE NEXT 3 YEARS. That’s a tough sell, and now Tivo will be forced to make such sales pitches on their own…

  • megazone

    Why do people keep saying this change means it must be 3-years now? That’s bizarre.

    Most of the 2-year deals are LESS than before too. So 2- or 3-year deals will save you money over before, and they’ve always been better than 1-year deals.

    And even the 1-year deals only went up a few bucks for the most part – $13.60 to $15. That’s not a huge jump. A couple of them went up more, sure, but just a couple.

    Nothing about this change suddenly means only 3-year deals are worth it. See the tables I did and you can see the change is mostly a few minor increases and some major decreases.

    Sure, if you want the best deal, that’s 3-years. But that’s always been the best deal.

    As for satellite – frankly, I don’t think we’ll see an HD TiVo solution for satellite. Ever. (Well, aside from the soon-to-be-obsolete HD DirecTiVo.) Satellite systems are closed and neither DirecTV nor Dish will allow TiVo to produce DVRs for their systems. *Maybe* if TiVo wins the suit against EchoStar on the appeal, they may license the TiVo code, but even then I doubt it. They’d probably just license the patents to make their box legal.

    If the FCC ever forced them to open up, like cable and CableCARD, maybe it’d happen. But recording HD from HDMI or component isn’t going to happen any time soon, and I doubt it will ever. HDCP is supposed to prevent it on HDMI anyway. And compressing componet is a major task.

    So if you’re committed to satellite, you’re stuck with the vendor’s DVR.